Fast and Furious: Judge Says Obama's Executive Privilege Over Documents is Valid

Posted: May 16, 2014 8:40 AM

Yesterday during a court hearing U.S. District Judge Amy Berman Jackson, who is overseeing the Fast and Furious lawsuit between the House Oversight Committee and the Department of Justice, hinted that President Obama's assertion of executive privilege is valid. Jackson hasn't made a decision on how she will rule. More from AP:

She said she regards the executive privilege claim as qualified. That view could result in some Justice Department records that House Republicans want remaining confidential, while others might be subject to public disclosure.

Lawyers for the House and the White House argued the case before Jackson. She flayed both sides, chiding the lawyers for turning in legal filings that she called "distressing" for their "vituperative" tone and saying the hearing would not turn into a "press conference."

Ultimately, Jackson will rule on whether the president's privilege claim trumps the congressional subpoena.

A ruling in favor of Obama's executive privilege would leave thousands of Fast and Furious documents behind closed doors.

It's important to remember that after claimed for a year the White House had nothing to do with Fast and Furious, President Obama asserted executive privilege over documents. Further, that privilege was asserted just fifteen minutes before the first contempt hearing and vote for Attorney General Eric Holder took place in June of 2012.

It should also be noted that late last fall Judge Jackson struck down Holder's request to dismiss the lawsuit over documents from the Oversight Committee, saying it is the court's job to resolve disputes between the executive and legislative branches of government.

Late Monday night, U.S. District Court Judge Amy Berman Jackson denied a Department of Justice request to dismiss a lawsuit filed by the House Oversight Committee last summer over Operation Fast and Furious documents.

“In the Court's view endorsing the proposition that the executive may assert an unreviewable right to withhold materials from the legislature would offend the Constitution more than undertaking to resolve the specific dispute that has been presented here,” Jackson wrote in her ruling. "Neither legal nor prudential considerations support the dismissal of this action, the defendant’s motion to dismiss the action will be denied."